Mance Lipscomb

Painted by Russell Cushman

To hear Mance sing Sugar Babe, click on the link below:

Born in 1895, Mance Lipscomb and his music enjoy a great deal more popularity now than they did when he was available to play in person around Navasota for ranch barbecues. Quietly over the decades he developed a unique style, where he played bass, rhythm and lead all at once, and it is said that he knew over three hundred songs, of all kinds. Mance started out playing bass behind his father, a popular local fiddler represented by the figure behind him in the mural. Mance loved to listen to the Mexican farm laborers camping in the Brazos Bottom at night when they played "Spanish guitar" and personally studied the styles of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Willie Johnson to learn to play the guitar.

His legacy was lasting because he kept on playing when only a few were listening. That's an important thing for aspiring musicians to know. Thanks to Chris Strachwitz and Mack McCormick, old Mance was found, recorded, packaged and unveiled to the world. We are deeply indebted to them for making his music available to the world.

Mance Lipscomb sings Tom Moore Farm:

Even in the sunset of his career Mance managed to impress lots of young musicians who truly loved him. Leon Russell, Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Steve Miller, Eric Clapton and many others looked to him as a living link between American rock and roll and its mother, Southern blues. Joplin and Dylan came to Navasota just to pick on his porch.  

When veteran Texas musicians come to Navasota, they invariably will recall their associations with Mance. George Ensle speaks affectionately of this Texas blues legend, and the golden days in Austin when he opened for him. Later he was inspired to write a song partly based on men like Mance Lipscomb, who quietly made a mark on our culture. Ray Wylie Hubbard told of driving Mance to a gig in Oklahoma, upon the invitation of a friend, which involved a trek down to Navasota to pick him up, and long hours on the road in arms reach of the gentle, unpretentious soul who made a friend for life.     

It is because of Mance that the Navasota Bluesfest was started, and probably because of his popularity that it has become one of the best blues venues in the country.

Hear Mance's rendition of Rock Me Mama:

Mance makes his slide guitar TALK on Motherless Children!:

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